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Deep Roots: Rice Farmers in West Africa and the African Diaspora (Blacks in the Diaspora)

Amazon.com Price: $30.00 (as of 01/07/2020 18:10 PST- Details)

Mangrove rice farming on West Africa’s Rice Coast was the mirror image of tidewater rice plantations worked by enslaved Africans in 18th-century South Carolina and Georgia. This book reconstructs the development of rice-growing technology among the Baga and Nalu of coastal Guinea, beginning more than a millennium before the transatlantic slave trade. It reveals a picture of dynamic pre-colonial coastal societies, quite unlike the static, homogenous pre-modern Africa of previous scholarship. From its examination of inheritance, innovation, and borrowing, Deep Roots fashions a theory of cultural change that encompasses the diversity of communities, cultures, and forms of expression in Africa and the African diaspora.

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Review

“Fields-Black has written an important groundbreaking agricultural and Diasporic cultural history.”

(Georgia Historical Quarterly)

This study is an excellent contribution to the growing literature on food in precolonial Africa…. [I]t is a trailblazing work in its innovative amalgamation of archaeological, linguistic, and written source materials.

(Jeremy Rich, Middle Tennessee State University International Journal of African Historical Studies)

“In fine, Deep Roots represents an important contribution to the literature on risiculture in West Africa.XL.4 Spring 2010”

(Peter A. Coclanis University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Fields-Black (history, Carnegie-Mellon Univ.) digs out key periods in the technological history of West Africa’s coastal littoral by focusing on historical linguistics and tracing environmentally specific knowledge and its use in tidewater rice farming. Despite the potentially esoteric focus on the precolonial (first millennium) history of a sub-region of West Africa and the use of specialist methodologies, Fields-Black manages to make her research and its implications accessible to a wider audience. The volume’s final chapter on the African diaspora is a bridge between precolonial coastal Africa and the technology of the American South in the slave trade era explored by Judith Carney in Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas (CH, Oct’01, 39-0928). Readers will appreciate the book’s clarity of expression and revealing discussions of historical analysis and argumentation. The author’s interdisciplinary and comparative approaches challenge archaeological theories of diffusion from the inland Niger Delta to the ‘rice coast’ and sharpen the understanding of technology transfer and dynamic cultural change in the Atlantic era. Summing Up: Recommended. Research and classroom use at undergraduate and graduate levels. ― Choice

(C. L. Goucher, Washington State University)

“Deep Roots is a valuable addition to research on African rice systems and their origins….it contributes to the understanding of the rich cultural diversity of the coastal region extending from Gambia south and east to Liberia. Vol. 53.1 April 2010”

(Laurence C. Becker Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon)

“Deep Roots, an important and innovative book, pioneers a multidisciplinary methodology, which substantially compensates for the lack of written documentation… and archeology data during the formative period of the transatlantic slave trade in Africa.”

(American Historical Review)

“The scope of the work makes it an important addition for African and Diaspora studies, as well as those more generally interested in the transference of ideas and ecology.”

(Journal of West African History)

“[This] book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of rice cultivation in West Africa….Vol. 50 2009”

(Erik Gilbert Arkansas State University)

“While Deep Roots is a scholarly endeavor anyone interested in South Carolina’s rice history or African history would find it both fascinating and full of interesting facts, stories, illustrations and graphs that bring the story to life.February 18, 2009”

(Walterboro, SC)

“A stimulating study that deserves attention in graduate seminars… in African history… and in African diaspora studies. December, 2010”

(HISTORIAN)

Review

“An imaginative book… The writing is good and the ideas important.”

(Judith Carney, author of Black Rice: The African Origins of Rice Cultivation in the Americas)

“Fields-Black… offers important new insights into West African agricultural history and the dynamics of diasporic connections.”

(LaRay Denzer Northwestern University)

About the Author

Edda L. Fields-Black is an associate professor at Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in pre-colonial and West African history. With research interests extending into the African diaspora, for more than 15 years Fields-Black has traveled to and lived in Guinea, Sierra Leone, South Carolina, and Georgia to uncover the history of African rice farmers and rice cultures.

Mangrove rice farming on West Africa’s Rice Coast was the mirror image of tidewater rice plantations worked by enslaved Africans in 18th-century South Carolina and Georgia. This book reconstructs the development of rice-growing technology among the Baga and Nalu of coastal Guinea, beginning more than a millennium before the transatlantic slave trade. It reveals a picture of dynamic pre-colonial coastal societies, quite unlike the static, homogenous pre-modern Africa of previous scholarship. From its examination of inheritance, innovation, and borrowing, Deep Roots fashions a theory of cultural change that encompasses the diversity of communities, cultures, and forms of expression in Africa and the African diaspora.

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